En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Saturday - February 09, 2008

From: Portland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Rubber (latex) in Balloon plant (Asclepias physocarpa)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need milkweed leaves that contain rubber. The common milkweed species Asclepias syriaca has rubber in it. Do the milkweed of Balloon plant milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa) contain rubber?

ANSWER:

Asclepias physocarpa is a native of southeast Africa and our focus and expertise is on natives of North America so this plant is not really in our purview. However, we can answer your question. The majority, if not all, of the milkweeds—in particular, the members of the Genus Asclepias, including A. physocarpa—contain the sticky white latex sap that you see when you cut or break the leaves or stems. The latex, plus other chemical components such as cardenolides, are the plants defense against herbivores. There are insects that do thrive on the milkweeds (e.g, the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus) and have devised strategies to subvert the plants's defenses. You can read more about the plants defense strategies in: Angrawal, A. and M. Fishbein. 2006. Plant Defense Syndromes. Ecology 87(7) Supplement. S132-S149.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Plants for a lakeside bank in NC
November 07, 2011 - Our association is looking to plant a huge sloped area that runs down to Lake Wylie. We want to plant something that is good for erosion and that does not grow too tall so that we keep our view of th...
view the full question and answer

Need help fighting grass burs in La Grange, TX.
January 22, 2013 - I have 4 acres of wildflowers planted in my front yard. Unfortunately, grassburs have crept in & I need to control them with a pre-emergent. Will this keep the wildflowers from blooming? Also, would l...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly garden from Buffalo, NY
February 20, 2014 - I'd like to replace the grass in my front yard with a native butterfly garden that will suit the larval and adult stages of butterflies in Western New York. The patch in question faces north and gets...
view the full question and answer

Asclepias with whitish discoloration
May 26, 2008 - I have red/scarlett milkweed planted in my yard. The leaves have a whitish discoloration on the top of some of the leaves and it is spreading. What is it? What do I do about it?
view the full question and answer

Soil for native Chilopsis linearis and Salvia greggii
February 08, 2010 - I want to plant a desert willow and a salvia greggii in my small lot. The developer used sandy loam to fill in the small garden in the front. I am 73 and a bit impaired. Do I really need to remove ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center